A free version of one of the most popular database choices, but there are limitations.
Microsoft’s SQL Server relational database is one of the most popular choices in the market, but as with all big technology choices there is complexity.
SQL Server is a relational database management that is used to manage and store information and SQL Server Express is a version of this that is free to download, distribute and use.
The free version is aimed at being used for embedded and smaller-scale applications and has many of the same features that are available in the paid, full version of the system but there are some differences.
In SQL Server 2014 the maximum database size is 10GB per database, in the 2008 version that is 4GB and in earlier versions it is 2GB.
In the free version there is no SQL Server Agent service and there are artificial hardware usage limits. In the free version a user can only have a single physical CPU but multiple cores and 1GB of RAM.
A typical use of the free version might be with a phone application that then synchronises with an online data source.
SQL Server Express is particularly well suited to smaller use cases given the limitations that are applied. Typical adopters of this version would be those that want database technology but do not feel that it is worth them paying for the big version.
The popularity of SQL Server Express has led to Microsoft adding it to its Azure cloud platform for customers to use it for testing, development, and monitoring management applications.
The free version can be used with any web application framework such as PHP, and applications such as WordPress, and Drupal.
SQL Server Express supports the same T-SQL language that are found in SQL Server and users can issue data manipulation language queries against the database, in addition to running data definition language statements to create views, triggers, cursors and stored procedures.
Express also supports Full Text Search, native XML, and the SQL Common Language Runtime.